Personnel Today Awards 2016: Thales wins Innovation in Recruitment

CEBThales has been rewarded for its resourcing creativity winning the 2016 Personnel Today Award for Innovation in Recruitment, sponsored by CEB Global. Here, we look at the manufacturer’s winning entry and those of our runners-up.

WINNER

Thales

About the organisation

For 40 years, Thales UK has played a major part in Thales Group’s global vision. It researches, develops, manufactures and supplies technology and services to the UK’s aerospace, defence, security and transportation sectors.

The challenge

Thales needed to engage students earlier in their careers, and increase awareness of STEM subjects. It realised that getting females interested and engaged in STEM subject careers before year 11 would help counteract the imbalance currently evident in the industry. There was also an issue with people who had accepted an offer to join an apprenticeship scheme and, with a long lead time between acceptance and start date, some students were accepting multiple offers before deciding at a later date.

Innovation in recruitment – the judges

Darren Hayman, Macmillan Davies

Mark Horley, Tonic Agency

What the organisation did

  • Developed an interactive video that highlighted everyday skills that apprentices need – such as attention to detail and knowledge of technology.
  • Invited the audience to solve a series of puzzles, and take part in an interactive game, where they finally made their way to the airport for an all expenses paid trip abroad.
  • Used The Student Room to deepen the level of engagement with the audience, knowing that they were using the forum to converse with each other and seek advice.
  • Used the opportunity to pique interest and drive students to Thales’ other channels, such as SnapChat, to connect with existing apprentices and undertake some of the puzzles and fun content we had created.
  • Analysed SnapChat’s unique purpose and curated appropriate content. To drive people to it, it developed a cross-platform strategy that pushed the audience from Facebook to SnapChat.
  • Turned to WhatsApp to give students a more personal way to get in touch, leading to an improved candidate experience and stakeholder satisfaction.
  • Developed a “keep warm” goodie box that made new starters feel like part of a club – Generation T. The box also contained a mini engineering-related challenge that provided a conversation starter among their cohort and Thales colleagues on a closed Facebook group.

Benefits and achievements

  • Banners have received 939 clicks and The Student Room users found the game so engaging that they started their own forum thread to promote it – resulting in 317 organic views with no paid promotion.
  • Facebook impressions were 514,423 and resulted in a click-through rate of 0.97% (the industry average is just 0.02%) with a 61% female bias.
  • For brainteasers that required a drawn answer, 28% of viewers were creating screen grabs to solve the puzzle.
  • Apprenticeship requests from the business have doubled – there has been a 78% increase in applications so far, with the quality being far higher. Candidates are being screened at assessment centres, with an average hire ratio of one in two (as opposed to one in four in 2014).
  • There is also an increased appetite to engage in early years awareness programmes – covering a STEM schools outreach programme that includes presentations, booklets and games.
  • Considering the impending apprenticeship levy set to begin in 2017, the strategy should reap real rewards.

Judges’ comments

“Some brave aspects to engagement, good recognition of double challenge.”

the Thales team collect their trophy from CEB's Nick Shaw

the Thales team collect their trophy from CEB’s Nick Shaw

RUNNERS-UP

Accenture UK & Ireland

About the organisation

Accenture is a leading global professional services company that provides a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Its clients span a range of industries around the world and include 94 of the Fortune Global 100 and more than 80% of the Fortune Global 500.

The challenge

The overall objective was to re-educate and challenge the preconceptions of a very sophisticated target audience. They knew Accenture as a management consultancy, but it needed to stay ahead of the curve. It needed to devise a system to show its audience what it had achieved for its clients, its ability to innovate and why this should have an impact on their choice of employer.

What the organisation did

  • Devised a campaign, “Unexpected Accenture”, which started with selecting a representative sample of 32 participants, from both internal and external sources.
  • Carried out interviews with seven separate focus groups, which revealed a mistrust of information that was not evidenced, or endorsed by real-life interviews.
  • Showcased three of the most recent major projects: RBS Six Nations; YouView and the latest innovations in financial services, and brought these to life in a meaningful way, by creating reportage-style web pages, and incorporating interview footage with people involved.
  • Developed a clear, compelling narrative that engaged the audience in what they could expect to do – and what they would get from doing it.
  • Deployed an ambient teaser campaign drawing on elements of each project.
  • Created a number of interactive installations to introduce the stories in a real-world setting. These included cafés in East London, Liverpool Street Station and a range of careers fairs up and down the country.
  • Introduced marketing initiatives, including an arcade-style grabber machine that could be controlled by a smartphone to win mini rugby balls, a tower of televisions through the ages, and a sleek, digital obelisk that asked passers-by to make predictions about the future.
  • Devised a coordinated media campaign consisting of niche job boards, behavioural targeting and search engine marketing.
  • Tracked all digital marketing to produce cookie-based metrics to determine the effectiveness of the campaign overall.

Benefits and achievements

  • The business was not just able to track the effectiveness of media placement, but also the influence of the various chapters of the story on conversion to application and hire.
  • To date, the campaign has created a 32% reduction in year-on-year cost per hire, saving one-third on last year’s spend.
  • Of the hires made, 52% had been influenced directly by the online case study web pages.
  • Case studies have been viewed 86,468 times and positively influenced 6,256 applications with the average dwell time being 4.18 seconds.

Judges’ comments

“Nice piece of work. Expertly crafted.”


DBS

About the organisation

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

The challenge

Feedback from customers showed that there were issues with turnaround times, which were on average 90 days. The time and money spent going through applications was high, and DBS was losing 43% of potential applicants when they had to complete competency-based assessments. There was a skills gap within both the customer services and operations business areas, which was subsequently negatively impacting on the service provided to customers and stakeholders of DBS. The company’s aim was to reduce the time and associated costs to recruit and increase its skill base.

What the organisation did

  • Carefully considered a number of approaches beyond traditional competency-based recruitment, and – despite initial apprehension from many areas of the business and trade unions – decided to trial assessment centres to fill a number of new posts.
  • Held its first recruitment open day in Liverpool, supported by a local advertising campaign, using print and online channels.
  • Reached out to minority groups, enriching the pool of applicants and celebrating diversity, and actively engaged minority groups in the area.
  • Showcased and promoted DBS as a great place to work, and shared its vision for the future, showing all prospective candidates how every member of the organisation contributes to keeping communities safe.
  • Provided first-hand detail about the roles with both post holders and the resourcing team on hand to answer questions.
  • Held assessment centres that gave the team and post holders the chance to demonstrate the skills and competencies required for each role.
  • Conducted interviews to assess collaborating and partnering skills, and gave candidates face-to-face feedback at each stage.
  • Trained assessors on giving feedback prior the assessment, providing the opportunity to discuss where the candidates had not succeeded and offered advice for any future applications.
  • Ran a survey through Survey Monkey that was sent to all successful and unsuccessful candidates – more than 73% of candidates rated the format of the day as good to excellent.

Benefits and achievements

  • More than 2,500 potential candidates attended the event, and DBS received more than 5,000 applications – 1,000 within one hour of publication.
  • Feedback from internal teams who supported the process was extremely positive, and they all agreed that they had developed their skills through the process.
  • The approach adopted, and the practical demonstration of capability, has allowed DBS to recruit sufficient, competent candidates into the roles, as well as enabling it to build large merit lists to support growth for the future.
  • The delivery team have been nominated and shortlisted for a Pride of DBS Award, in the Outstanding Achievement of the Year category.
  • Feedback from the operations training team revealed the standard of candidates is very high. The new starters brought in to join the new evening shift team have become effective in their roles very quickly, meeting their training targets, and processing double the average amount of disclosures.
  • New staff in the customer services department are enthusiastic and are making a difference to the department and the public. Line managers have praised the impact they have had in terms of positive outlook, personal capabilities, and general work ethic.
  • Disabled candidates went from 16% less likely to 22% more likely to be successful in the recruitment campaign, compared with non-disabled candidates.
  • Saw a 10% increase in applications from black and minority ethnic groups and a 20% increase in success rate.

Judges’ comments

“A great example of doing the basics right and adding flair and panache.”


MTR Crossrail

About the organisation

MTR Crossrail (part of MTR Corporation), is the new operating company responsible for delivering train services on the Crossrail network on behalf of Transport for London (TfL). It was awarded the concession for operating the new Elizabeth line across London.

The challenge

Once the contract was awarded to MTR Crossrail in July 2014, work began in September 2014 to recruit the people needed for the launch of the operational railway on 31 May 2015. This gave HR, in partnership with the operations team, just nine months to target, attract, assess, select and appoint the talent needed to get the railway running.

What the organisation did

  • Developed a targeted recruitment campaign to encourage more women to apply for trainee train driver roles, which included a video featuring female train drivers discussing the benefits of the role and emphasised the role’s importance for the safe and efficient running of the railway.
  • Worked closely with websites such as www.workingmums.co.uk and www.wearethecity.com to create female-friendly adverts that generated a great deal of interest in the career opportunity, and used Gumtree to target specific locations on the line.
  • Created a demanding and challenging recruitment process for trainee train drivers, delivered in partnership with the Occupational Psychology Centre.
  • Targeted the unemployed and unskilled candidates, particularly young people who are starting out in the world of work.
  • Committed to engage a minimum of 53 apprentices over the course of its concession in a variety of roles and departments, in addition to the 290 trainee train driver apprenticeships that the business offers.
  • Worked with organisations such as Talent Match, which helps young people into work, including participating in roundtable discussions to establish what employers can do to help encourage young people to enter the transport industry.
  • Participated in Apprentice Day events at City Hall in March 2016, collecting contact information from attendees who were interested in MTR Crossrail apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Invited six delegates from a “Route into Work” event (a three-day pre-employment course designed to support candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds) to a full interview for a current vacancy.

Benefits and achievements

  • Campaign on Working Mums website generated the highest number of hits for any vacancy in its history, with more than 9,000 hits in one month.
  • The trainee train driver vacancy on Gumtree received 5,600 hits in a two-week period, a record for this website.
  • More than 4,500 completed applications were received for trainee driver vacancies on the Elizabeth line in February 2015. Despite there being only 100 vacancies for this part of the business, 118 offers were actually made because of the sheer quality of candidates.
  • To date, 14,669 applications have been received for MTR Crossrail’s trainee train driver vacancies. 1,511 of these have been from women, who make up 10% of the train driver population.
  • Notably, 100% of the first cohort of MTR Crossrail trainee train drivers have passed the first stage of the programme, highlighting the calibre of candidates.
  • MTR Crossrail’s first employee survey, conducted just six weeks after commencing operations, revealed an engagement score of 93% (July 2015).
  • Low sickness absence confirms how motivated employees are and want to be at work: latest figures record attendance at 98.4% across the entire workforce.

Judges’ comments

“Really impressed with the efforts and results in addressing inclusion and gender diversity.”


Penguin Random House

About the organisation

Penguin Random House employs more than 10,000 people globally across five continents. It comprises almost 250 editorially and creatively independent imprints and publishing houses that publish more than 15,000 new titles annually. Its publishing lists include more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of the world’s most widely read authors.

The challenge

In a fast-changing world, Penguin Random House is always looking to find new ways to share its stories and connect with readers. In response, HR led an innovative entry-level marketing programme launched in 2015, designed to find different voices. It needed to encourage people who may never have thought about working in publishing to think again.

What the organisation did

  • Developed and delivered a recruitment programme, which worked with marketing representatives from each of the eight publishing divisions.
  • Identified and clearly defined the qualities it was looking for and then designed its assessments around these. It was also deliberately transparent in its criteria, sharing this with candidates from the outset.
  • Asked seven questions – one for each quality – and applicants shared their responses via Typeform, and then used cutting-edge on-demand digital interviewing to ensure the application process was as accessible as possible.
  • Asked candidates, using the HireVue platform, to pitch a creative marketing campaign for Alice in Wonderland’s 150th anniversary.
  • Invited candidates to London for a two-day selection event, where three bespoke creative challenges were designed to assess the seven qualities and to replicate real marketing responsibilities.
  • Asked candidates to present a marketing campaign, pitch to an “author” and “agent” to secure an author’s second book, and design and sell an event for Latitude festival.
  • Created and maintained a buzz by running a Twitter and Facebook-led marketing campaign, as well as hosting a Twitter Q&A session captured on Storify.
  • Paid attention to its audience, ensuring the voice was inclusive and welcoming and that it provided support throughout the campaign.
  • Created a dedicated Tumblr site for candidates and sent them a surprise “survival kit” for an overnight stay in London.
  • Devised a two-way experience, which led to learnings for both Penguin Random House and the candidates.
  • Tracked the progress with analytics; using the feedback it gained along the way to adapt the campaign and to build insights for future campaigns.
  • Ensured that candidates received encouragement, tips and feedback, including a blog on Tumblr, which shared “what made a good application great” so they could use this feedback for future interviews.

Benefits and achievements

  • Recruited four exciting hires from outside the industry who joined the company in September 2015: a 27-year-old cake business owner and vlogger; a sixth-form student; a software sales executive and a Toronto-born history graduate, all at a cost-per-hire of less than £1,000.
  • Within four hours of the launch, more than 2,700 people had visited the Tumblr site, growing to an eventual audience of 27,000. 81% were from the target demographic of 18- to 34-year-olds.
  • The company had 9,000 engaged Facebook users; 41% social media referrals and 19,000 site users. This lead to 800 online applications, 50 video interviews and 20 finalists.
  • Campaign captured significant press coverage for Penguin Random House and overwhelming positive feedback from applicants.
  • The scheme pushed the debate about diversity in publishing, and the wider economy, several steps forward because it proved that candidates without degrees can perform as well as those with one.
  • It subsequently removed the requirement to have a degree from all of its recruitment processes – this attracted national coverage from the BBC and The Guardian, and led to widespread radio coverage and more than 700 tweets.

Judges’ comments

“Multi-dimensional engagement and attraction, amazing use of different social media channels.”


Sainsbury’s

About the organisation

Sainsbury’s is the second-largest chain of supermarkets in the UK, with a 16.9% share of the supermarket sector. Founded in 1869, by John James Sainsbury with a shop in Drury Lane, London, the company became the largest grocery retailer in 1922 and was an early adopter of self-service retailing.

The challenge

Sainsbury’s Digital & Technology (D&T) function was about to expand beyond its Central London offices and the company wanted to recruit 150 new programmers and developers to join them in their new Manchester D&T hub. The problem was the Sainsbury’s employer brand. It oozed sustainable, family-friendly retailing, and it had a wholesomeness about it that reflected the needs of its consumers, not the technological innovations that would attract applicants. It needed to target those people, entice and engage them.

What the organisation did

  • Devised and disseminated the Sainsbury’s “Invaders” campaign.
  • Ensured its message reflected the size, stature and connection to the personalities of the target audience. The icon it chose was a space invader.
  • Targeted its self-confessed D&T “geeks” and headed into Manchester city centre by car, tram, bus and on foot, as well as on the very streets of their residential habitats.
  • Made the space invader appear on a 96-sheet billboard on an arterial route into the city and sprayed in chalk onto the streets of Manchester targeting D&T employees by postcode, competitor organisations and hangouts populated by “geek” archetypes as removable graffiti.
  • Virtually re-branded the business with use of more serious black backgrounds (as opposed to the usual orange) and an edgy tone (both in terms of media usage and visual impact) that belies the company’s usual gentle approach.
  • Ran the campaign as close to the boundaries of brand guidelines as it was possible to do.

Benefits and achievements

  • There were dramatic increases in Manchester-only D&T microsite traffic (an increase of 4.5) and stencil graffiti campaign (increase of 3.8).
  • In December 2015, the D&T microsite saw around 4,500 users visiting the site. By February, and the launch of the campaign, that number exceeded 7,500 – record numbers for the site launched back in January 2015.
  • With the Sainsbury’s Invaders campaign, it has carried out the employee communications industry’s definitive exercise in iconography this year, applying the most innovative methods of targeting and reaching its target audience.

Judges’ comments

“Nicely executed campaign that targets the audiences well. Good use of guerrilla tactics too.”


SAP UK

About the organisation

A subsidiary of SAP SE, the market leader in enterprise application software, SAP United Kingdom and Ireland oversees all business operations in the UK and Ireland, and is headquartered in Clockhouse Place, Middlesex.

The challenge

Sourcing is the most critical part of modern talent acquisition. Good recruitment is tough, but mediocre recruitment is easy. Hiring an average candidate is easily done via job boards and agencies, however, SAP wanted to turn its focus to sourcing, by going direct to top talent to encourage them to consider it for their next career steps.

What the organisation did

  • Merged sourcing and gamification together to create “sourcification”.
  • Measured the performance of “sources” via league tables, which adds a gamification element and makes the competition between hubs fun.
  • Invested considerable time and effort in building three new sourcing hubs in Boston (US), Prague (Europe) and Manila (Asia).
  • Aimed to recruit and hire a team that understood the importance of proactively seeking out top talent and differentiating SAP’s employment brand.
  • Interviewed hundreds of candidates and decisions were taken on the background and skills of sourcers.
  • Created friendly competition among the sourcers to be the “top dog” in their own region and to work for the best sourcing hub.
  • Encouraged sourcers to complete each month to be the best in their region and globally – results were measured using defined KPIs, and these KPIs were tracked using league tables.
  • Enabled teams and individuals to choose fun and interesting names, and compete on a leaderboard, which motivates them to work toward and beat their KPIs.
  • Gave out cash awards monthly, quarterly and yearly, which are reflected in the leaderboard, again motivating each individual sourcer to push themselves to their personal limits.

Benefits and achievements

  • Made 50% more offers on the same number of requisitions after the overhaul of sourcing from the previous calendar year.
  • Beginning in month four, every single hub exceeded their hire KPIs, which resulted in 50% more offers on the same number of requisitions after the overhaul of sourcing from the previous calendar year.
  • In 2015, sourcers screened more than 6,000 individuals, 3,766 new passive candidates were submitted to hiring managers, and more than 2,000 candidates were interviewed by hiring managers.
  • On requisitions that took longer than 60 days, there were on average four submittals per requisition, the first submittal was within five days and at least three candidates were shortlisted within 11 days.
  • There was a 78% acceptance rate with recruiters, and a 49% acceptance rate with hiring managers. Candidates were made an offer within 14 days on average.
  • More than 20,000 candidates from SAP’s key competitors in the cloud have been mapped, organising more than a dozen events globally for candidates to come to SAP and see our innovations in person.
  • Business has saved more than £3 million in agency fees from 2014 to 2015.

Judges’ comments

“Very on-trend, good building of internal collaboration, mission and culture.”


Virgin Money

About the organisation

Virgin Money is a financial services brand, which currently has four million customers in the UK. Originally established under Virgin Direct in 1995, it rapidly expanded, rebranded as “Virgin Money” and purchased Northern Rock in 2012.

The challenge

Virgin Money aims to make “Everyone Better Off” (EBO). This means creating a company where: colleagues can be their true selves at work; customers receive a fair deal at all times; local communities are supported; shareholders benefit from the company achieving fair, but not excessive, profit; and corporate partners build strong and productive relationships. Innovation to provide customers with a different and better experience is a core challenge. Virgin Money needed to create an environment where people can show it that they have the “V Factor”.

What the organisation did

  • Utilised innovative “immersive assessment” to find people who would create a brilliant customer experience and support the company in delivering its corporate ambition to become “Britain’s best-loved bank”.
  • Created Dr Virginia Helpenmosten, a Nobel prize-winning (and fictional) scientist and her Institute of Wonderful Experiences – this acted as an immersive assessment theatre, designed to provide an opportunity to see candidates being themselves and to shine and show that they’ve got the “V-factor”.
  • Created 15 activities that are wholly removed from the world of banking – they are different and have a sense of humour.
  • Created the “superhero emergency hotline”, where the candidate has to deal with calls from some unfortunate superheroes, following clear procedures while also typing clear and accurate notes. This shows customer service skills, along with technical excellence and a burning drive for results.
  • Candidates had to do an exercise around Virgin’s annual music festival, where they had to work together to decide who should be the headline act. The objectives is for the candidates to consider the needs/wants of each of the individuals and make a joint decision that will be most beneficial for everyone.
  • Underpinned all activities with a behaviour framework based on a robust scoring mechanism. Each activity is designed to give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate at least one of those behaviours.
  • Hired actors to record some video segments. All assessors must take a two-day course on how to set up, run and take part in an event.
  • Invested in “Dr Virginia Kits” which were sent to regional managers. The kits include props and instructions to enable them to run assessments locally.

Benefits and achievements

  • Trained more than 80 assessors to date.
  • All stores network and operations hub use the Dr Virginia assessment and, to date, have succeeded in finding more than 60 new colleagues using this method.
  • More people are joining the bank, staying with it, and are able to deliver a fantastic experience for its customers.
  • Candidates have handled customer interactions as part of the assessment, rather than relying on what candidates say at interview.
  • Feedback received has exceeded expectations. Managers say it has given them a new level of insight and equipped them to confidently make great hires.
  • Comments from candidates about their experience include: “Like nothing else I’ve ever experienced”, “Incredibly refreshing”, “Totally unexpected for a bank”, “Pushed me out of my comfort zone”, and “Has given me new confidence to try new things”.
  • Due to the huge success and positive feedback that the approach has attracted, Virgin Money has extended it into broader aspects of talent assessment and development, such as identifying colleagues for internal talent programmes and recruiting apprentices for its Future Bankers Academy.

Judges’ comments

“Refreshing, cool. Some really great construction of methods to examine V-factor. Great feedback.”

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